Tuesday, 7 March 2017

March 8 2017:  
French Film Festival
David Stratton: A Cinematic Life
The Salesman

The Alliance France French Film Festival opens in Melbourne tonight (Wed 8 March). Cinephiles are treated to a splendid insight into the Aussie film industry and into the life of iconic critic David Stratton, while the worthy Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, The Salesman also releases. 

David Stratton: A Cinematic Life
Director: Sally Aitken
Length: 100 min
© Transmission - the iconic pair feature, but David's
commitment to Aussie films is the focus of this excellent doco. 
I was always more aligned with the film reviews of David rather than Margaret! So I am absolutely delighted to get a rare insight into this man's life, and to be taken on his personal journey through Aussie film history, learning how it has shaped his view of his adopted country. David started writing reviews at age 7, then emigrated to Oz, where he later became director of the Sydney Film Festival, and then spent 30 years co-hosting the iconic shows At the Movies and The Movie Show with Margaret Pomeranz. His depth of knowledge and passion shine, as he guides us through his love affair with our country's film industry. There are excerpts from almost 100 films, along with almost as many interviews with notables of Aussie film, all of whom have unflinching respect for David. Not only is the film astonishingly educational (making me want to revisit every single movie he discussed!), it is also a personal and surprisingly touching look at one man's devotion to his life-long passion. (He sees at least one film every day of his life!) 
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended!  

The Salesman
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Length: 123 min
© Hi-Gloss -  another intense human relationship drama 
from Asghar Farhadi
Director Farhadi won Best Foreign Language film with A Separation at the 2011 Oscars. Now he has done it again with this film, this year. The Salesman tells the story of Emad and Rana, who are appearing in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman at a theatre in Teheran. When forced to vacate their flat which has become unsafe, they move into an apartment where a previous tenant seems to have attracted unsavoury visitors. When Rana is attacked by an unseen person, Emad takes matters into his own hands and decides upon a course of revenge. This is nuanced film-making, that never takes a black and white approach. The shades of grey in the moral dilemmas and gender issues, along with the subtle political implications of life under a repressive regime, are all finely handled in this intense film that shows us people, life and situations are seldom how we initially judge them. 
4 - wholeheartedly recommended!  

Alliance Francaise French Film Festival
Melbourne 8-30 March
Palace Brighton Bay, Balwyn, Como, Westgarth, Astor
Other states, visit the website!

Francophiles rejoice, as the FFF is upon us once more with 43 new features and 2 docos, including opening night's fabulous biopic The Odyssey, about legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. 
Fans of the art of dance should delight this year with Monsieur Chocolat,  Polina and The Dancer. The Dardenne brothers are back with the award-winning The Unknown Girl, and Bertrand Tavernier offers cinephiles the 3-hour treat, A Journey Through French Cinema. 
What can I tell you, when in fact I only ever manage to preview a handful of these enticing films. A couple really impressed me: 
TomorrowCesar-winning documentary in which actor/director Melanie Laurent explores how ecologically-minded communities are solving some of the world's direst problems. Think growing veggies in the main streets of Detroit, cities that use more bicycles than cars, along with such challenging concepts as totally changing the world's economic, educational and democratic models.
Being 17: Also showing at the Queer Film Festival, this is a sensitive story of two schoolboys who start as enemies, but slowly develop a closeness. Add in themes of family alienation, death, adoption, self esteem, along with a stunning Pyrenees mountain setting, and you have a winner from acclaimed director Andre Techine.   
I also previewed Moka, a revenge drama about a woman whose child is killed and who believes she knows who did it and insinuates her way into their lives. Excellent performance from Nathalie Baye. 
Saint Amour is a light comedy featuring Gerard Depardieu and Benoit Poelvoorde as father and son cattle farmers who travel to the wine regions with a private driver, determined to drink away their various sorrows. 
Kalinka stars ever popular Danile Auteuil, and tells the true story of a case that spanned almost 30 years, in which a father sought justice for his daughter who was found dead in her step-father's home. 
Check out the website and make yourself a list of films that take your fancy:

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